1851 Tasting Notes
I almost forgot I had this tea this morning. It was somewhat interrupted as we had a mini dissertation crisis this morning (all I can say is, thank god the boyfriend and I are not defending at the same time), but fortunately I still got to drink it while it was warm.
I used to love this tea; early in my tea career it was one of my faves. Now I am not so much a fan of the chocolate flavoring, and I am becoming pickier about my nutty teas. A lot of them just taste off to me for some reason now. I drank this one with milk and sugar this morning, and it was pretty tasty. It’s also pretty old at this point, and I think that Harney’s teas do tend to fade in flavor faster than some other flavored ones I have. Fortunately I have less of this one than I thought, so I should be able to work through it quickly.
Mmm, this was my second gongfu session today. Unlike the aged TGY, this tea epitomizes the floral, green, new-style oolong. This is a beautiful, beautiful tea, and it is exactly my kind of tea. I love these.
The first steeps were sweet and very very floral. The type of flower is most definitely lilac, because it strongly reminded me of some lilac bushes currently blooming outside my office. Slightly buttery, but in a very sweet cream butter way. A bit of peach-flower; almost fruity, but not quite. I feel bad that I got distracted and couldn’t pay attention to the tea toward later steeps, but it was really, really delicious. This is a TGY that I would definitely reorder to keep around, even though I have a pile of TGYs from Verdant, because it’s that awesome (and really, I can never have enough TGYs!)
Sipdown, 149. Since I just had the ten year aged TGY from the reserve club yesterday, I decided to have a gongfu session with this sample today to compare. This is a much more traditionally aged TGY, having been pan roasted at various points in its processing. I found this tea kind of lackluster brewed western style, so I’m interested to see how it plays out this way.
At first, the first steep smells very similar to the western brew. In comparison to the TGY from yesterday, it has a light but distinct roasted note, but more like roasted greens than toasted bread. But the flavor has a light sweetness to it, and it is more complex. There are notes of roasted kale and very faint florals, like the memory of a flower.
For me, this is one of those teas that has a intriguing, tasty first steep, and then subsequent steeps are kind of boring. I used to have that problem with most teas I brewed gongfu, but I have gotten better at the process. I still often fall so in love with the first steep of a TGY that everything afterward is somewhat disappointing, although with really fantastic TGYs there is less of a fall-off. The later steeps of this tea were fine but not really my style. They reminded me of a TGY that I bought in Beijing when I first arrived; very traditional (as opposed to the newer green TGYs), but I got bored with it after a while. I took this through 6 steeps before I gave up. Glad I got to try it, though.
Sipdown, 146. Quick, I need a sipdown because my Verdant reserve club box is out for delivery!
This is one I am sad to see go (but it was also the only sipdownable tea I had among the reserve club packages at home). It is an aged TGY, but so unique because there is no roasting involved! So it still has the greenness and the florals of a green TGY, but it also has a thick, hearty breadiness. I get some sweet green apple notes, kind of like an apple bread. I am spending the afternoon gongfu brewing this one, and very much enjoying it. Hmmm, I wonder if any of this is left on Verdant’s website?
After this cup I only have one more left of Laoshan Black! Except for the fact that I have plenty of it in blends and I have 2oz the the first picking, which should last me for a while. The one ounce I got of this certainly did, because my first tasting note for it is a year ago.
Perhaps because I am getting to the bottom of my pouch, which has been packed and unpacked for moving several times now, and the leaf is not so fluffy anymore, but I used 1 TBSP for 12oz here and it is a bit overly strong. Still tasty, but a bit too much bitter in the bittersweet chocolate today. Guess I should be using my standard black tea amount (2tsp for 12 oz) instead. Which of course makes the last of my sample an awkward amount; I suppose if it comes down to it I could dump the extra teaspoon into my LB chocolate genmaicha or bergamot rose LB blends.
At one point this was the only darjeeling I liked. Now I’m not even sure I like this one anymore. What’s going on, tastebuds? I’m all for learning to like things I didn’t before, but I don’t appreciate losing my taste for things (except maybe really crappy flavored tea. I’m ok with losing my taste for that). But darjeeling is a large hunk of the tea world, and lately my tastebuds are saying no to any and all varieties of it.
So yeah, today this one is unexpectedly bitter. I do think this would make a killer iced tea, so I guess I will take this home for that purpose.
I hot brewed this to cool it in the fridge and drink it cold. I snuck a sip after brewing (before adding sweetener) and it was so sour it pretty much turned my mouth inside out. Woah! After cooling I had to pour a ton of simple syrup in to even get it remotely sweet. Well, it was fine once I got it to be palatable, but this is definitely not a tea you can drink unsweetened. Not too sad to see it go!
Sipdown, 148. With the June reserve club coming in to increase my cupboard size, I thought it would be appropriate to sipdown some of the older reserve offerings I have. These teas tend to languish for multiple reasons: 1) I love them and want to hoard them because they are rare, 2) I don’t love them so I don’t think about drinking them often, and 3) I just don’t have time to gongfu very often. Tonight we came home slightly early so I decided to have this one in the evening.
This is one that I like ok but don’t love. I just haven’t picked up the palate for piney-ness and such. To me it really reminds me of walking a forest, in the cool weather, after a rainstorm. I love that scent, but it just doesn’t translate to delicious to me. But who knows, maybe in a couple of years it will!
I thought I might be within one more cup of a sipdown of this tea, but then I thought about it a bit. Did I really want to try to push the amount I had left into two cups, when it was really more suitable for three? Did I really want to rush through a sipdown of these, the only dragon pearls in my cupboard right now? The answer was no, I did not want to. Now that I’ve cleared my cupboard of easy sipdowns, its easy for me to fall into rotating only through the teas I have 5-10 servings of, hoping for a sipdown, but frustrated by how far away sipdowns seem to be. I’m still going to be working hard toward sipdowns, but I also have to remember to drink some tea from the larger tins and pouches in my stash.
So yes, I will savor this lovely tea and not rush a sipdown, although sipping it now it is clear that I shouldn’t wait too long… these pearls are pretty old and getting older, and they have lost some of their sparkle. Still, they are rich and sweet, with lots of lovely honeysuckle flavor to them. My favorite for a jasmine tea. And to think, these aren’t even the highest grade Teavivre offers! I will have to try the Superfine Downy pearls sometime.
Well, that last tea went from ok to completely undrinkable very quickly. Oh well, I blame the tea dust.
Last month I received two Verdant orders at the same time (one was a preordered tea cup), and both had a sample of this tea in them. One pouch is at home, waiting to be gongfu-ed, but one was brought into work to steep western style. I’m not typically into aged TGYs (I like them green as grass), but I am open to anything.
Steeped it smells like… an aged TGY. I know, so inspired. I am lacking in some inspiration today, I guess. There some dark florals lurking about, behind the aroma of lightly roasted veggies. The flavor is lighter than expected, really. It’s neither overly roasted nor overly floral. It’s just kind of sitting there in the middle, chilling. I’m not sure really what to think other than its a perfectly nice oolong to drink, but it’s not too terribly interesting to me. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in gongfu.